Evaluation of the Medical Specialist Outreach Assistance Program and the Visiting Optometrists Scheme - Final report volume 2

Appendix 2.h – Tele-Derm, Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine

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Background

Tele-Derm is a program run by the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) to provide specialist dermatology support and education to rural and remote GPs. The program began in 2003, building on an existing relationship that ACRRM had developed with a dermatologist. Through the dermatologists work providing training for the College, he realised that many cases could be diagnosed very quickly using very basic information (i.e. pictures). This realisation led to a proposal to one Queensland fundholder (now called General Practice Queensland) for the provision of teledermatology services for rural and remote Queensland doctors.


At the time, there was extra funding in the fundholder’s budget which allowed for the service to be rolled out as a trial. Initially, only doctors from Queensland were allowed to use the service due to funding and medical licensing restrictions. Because of the success of the program the trial was expanded to the rest of the country and funding was transferred to the national DoHA office. In order to achieve this expansion, the medical licensing for the dermatologist was increased to allow him to practice in all states. At the same time, through the MSOAP funding, ACRRM added a teleradiology service in addition to the Tele-Derm program.